Love Came to Us
It was Christmas Eve 1963 when Henry and his wife Judy made the 15 miles trip back home after the service. The unthinkable happened. Their car hit black ice and left the road. It spun out of control and hit a tree on Judy's side. She was killed on impact and Henry was taken to hospital by ambulance. After about 3 weeks he returned home. As time passed Henry turned into himself. He barely had contact with his family and when his pastor called he declined a visit. He never returned to church and became very bitter. Christmas time hit a bad chord for Henry. It was always a reminder of the greatest loss of his life. But on Christmas Eve 1971 something happened that brought Henry back into God's light. The church where he and his wife attended in good times sent the choir out to do Christmas Carolling. They came to Henry's house and sang “Love Came Down At Christmas.” There were phrases that penetrated Henry's heart - “Love was born at Christmas”, “We worship our Jesus”, “Love shall be our token” and “Love for you and love for me.” Henry came out of his house and broke out in tears. He was not the only one crying that night. One choir member said, “Welcome back, Henry.”
This story reminds us what Christmas is all about. We were isolated in sin and despair. We were locking ourselves in, but then Jesus' coming called us to step out into a new life. And then we surrendered to the Saviour of the world when we comprehended the meaning of the words, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10: 11. Let's turn to one of the greatest verses in the Bible – John 1: 14, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” What is the essence of this verse? The God of heaven and earth, the Creator of everything that exists, decided to come in human nature to this world. It was 1 God's Decision when nothing else would work, to come down to earth and see for Himself what was going on here. But we have to understand, my friends, God didn’t need to come. He wanted to come, because He loved you and me so much! Think for a moment about the position the Son had before He became Love Incarnate. We read in Colossians 1: 15 - 17, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” All that, Jesus put aside for a while and He limited Himself to the body of a vulnerable infant boy born in a dirty stable. Why? Who of us would have given up that position of supremacy? Who of us would have left a place of greatest joy and blessedness behind and have gone to a place of division and destruction that sin brought into reality? Jesus did! It was to show His love and compassion. Can we truly fathom the love God had for us to have come into our world? There was once a young man from a wealthy family that fell in love with a girl from the other side of the tracks. One night he took the courage and brought her to his parents home. His father wasn't pleased with his choice and told him the next morning, “I hope you're not serious about that girl. She's below our class and will be an embarrassment to our family. If you don't break it off with her, I will cut you off. You will not get a single cent from me.” To make a long story short, the young man left his parents home and after some time, he got married to the girl. One day she asked him, “Why did you give it all up? If I wasn't in your life you never would have looked back.” Without hesitation, he answered, “It was because of my love for you. It wasn't a difficult decision.” Jesus' decision was to come to us in the form of an infant. That was love, not just for one person, but immeasurable love for the entire world – love for you and love for me as it's sung in “Love Came Down at Christmas.”
The apostle John tells us that 2 Jesus Came To Make Us Children Of God. Verses 12 and 13 speak about that, “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” We all know how we became children of God and how we were born of God – Jesus placed Himself on the altar to pay once and for all for every sin of this world. He Himself said in John 15: 13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.” You see, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit observed from heaven the state of the world. Sin was destroying everything and Jesus was willing to come and lay down His life when the Father asked Him to do that. Yes, in John 3: 16, we should also think of the obedient love of the Son when we read that God sent His only begotten Son. But the whole world has to fathom - it's essential to accept the love of Jesus' salvation. It's not good enough to think that Jesus cared so much about others to give Himself in love. No, every person has to make it his or her own. It's a sad reality my friends – there will be thousands of people around the world who again will miss the essence of Christmas – the love of God in Jesus Christ. It was the Reformer Maarten Luther who once said, “Jesus Christ could have been born a thousand times in Bethlehem of Judea, but if He wasn't born in your heart it was all in vain.” There's a great word from 1 John 3: 1 that fills our hearts with so much gratitude especially around Christmas, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are.”
There was another motivation of Jesus' love – 3 He Came To Be With Us. Again we hear the words of verse 14, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” The Greek word for dwelling is eskenosen. It literally means for one to put up a tabernacles, because that one decided to stay. That tells us how Jesus decided to make His dwelling among us. He wanted to stay with us. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah predicted a Saviour would come and He would be called Emmanuel, meaning “God with us.” And here John says that the prophecy had been fulfilled – The Word became one of us; He wanted to be associated with us, sinners that easily could have been written off by God. That my friends, we can call sincere love. When no one deserved a second chance, God in His love gave a second chance. St. Paul thought of it as a mystery – he knew from personal experience that God did the incomprehensible. He pardoned him as the worst of all sinners and wanted to be in a relationship with him. God's love came to earth in the form of an ordinary human child, but in fact He was the Christ Child, so long awaited by God's people. And for 33 years He was with us and then the impossible happened. People killed Him – in fact His own people killed Him. I could just imagine the reaction of some people after the crucifixion who said, “How did this happen? How could someone so great this world never had seen before and never will see after be killed?” But after His death Jesus continued to be Emmanuel. He appeared to His disciples and promised them, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And the promise was for disciples of all ages to come. This promise is the Christmas promise in the year 2022. Jesus emphasized to His companions before His ascension, “The Gift of Love will still be with you. The Comforter will come and live in your hearts. You will then know that it is Me living in you.” You and I my friends, have Jesus in us. After more than 2000 years, He is still “Emmanuel, God with us!” That’s what makes Christmas so wonderful. When we come and sing our praises to God for the Gift of His Son, Jesus is present. When we go home to be with family and friends, Jesus has the special place at our tables. He isn’t just another historical figure whose birthday we think of. No, He is with and in us forever! The Love of God is forever with us! Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
What is true of your life – Are you perhaps still living life behind a locked door – that spiritually you just can't break out and be free to live? Are you perhaps filled with fear when you see the reality of the world we live in. My friends, that fear was answered when Jesus came. His love drove fear away. We read something so essential in 1 John 4: 18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” Let’s appreciate this love in Advent, as we go and meet the Christ Child. Through Him Love Came To Us.